Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Not The Police

     One of my online friends who lives in a major metropolitan area was stopped on his commute home by the forces of law and order, and shaken by the experience.  And by them.

     They weren't the police.

     As he tells it, he was driving along a multi-lane street next to a National Guard truck or personnel carrier, when someone up ahead of them ran a red light and made a left turn onto the street, close enough that he and the Guard vehicle had to brake abruptly.  (The coronavirus shut-downs have made for some terrible driving and several days of civil unrest has made drivers even more heedless, at least here and where he lives.  Probably where you live, too.)

     The police might've blipped their siren and flashed their lights to pull the careless driver over for a warning or a ticket.  The National Guard didn't have those, but whoever was in charge decided a response was needed.  They sped up, whipped around the offending vehicle, got a little ahead, slewed to block traffic and stopped everyone.  Including my friend.  Guardsmen (Guardspeople?) came piling out, ordered everybody out of their vehicles, and with a pair of them to every driver and passenger, were not nearly as gentle or nice about it as police would have been.

     His state government has officially called out the Guard to assist police.  I have no idea if the stop was authorized or justified.  My friend is a pretty enthusiastic goth or cybergoth, who (other than possibly being a little overdressed) wouldn't look out of place in a Mad Max film, and while that shouldn't complicate interaction with the forces of public safety, it often does.  But he got shoved around like a ragdoll while things got sorted out and then sent on his way without any social niceties.

     He's not (quite) furious.  But he's upset.  Who wouldn't be?

     The National Guard are not, generally, police officers.  They're Kevin the bartender and Joe the auto mechanic and Jill who hasn't decided what she wants to do with her life yet.  Even if a particular unit has received training in crowd control, they do not get the same kind of training police do, nor do they have the experience of dealing with the entire spectrum of the public that police officers accumulate.  They're not going to interact with you in the same way.  Even a "bad cop" understands the dance in a way that a truckload of part-time soldiers do not.  It's easy to say, "comply and everything will be all right."  Heck, it's even true, 99 times out of a hundred.  But understand ahead of time: if you encounter troops in a law enforcement situation, you're not dealing with Officer Friendly (or Not-So-Friendly), who has done hundreds of traffic stops or Terry stops.  It's not going to be the usual thing.

     Be smart.  Be like my friend.  He didn't debate Constitutionality with them.  He didn't ask if traffic enforcement was covered in their orders.  He didn't enjoy the experience -- way not! -- but he got through it and got home.


Will Brown said...

Smart friend, and a standard of self-awareness we should all aspire to. Under any circumstance.

Antibubba said...

I'd almost gotten used to the constant buzzing of helicopters overhead, but last night 2 cars rolled down my street with a loudspeaker. "A curfew is in effect from 8 pm to 5 am. Anyone on the street is subject to arrest and detention".

I wonder if the "Face masks are tyranny!" crowd are reassessing.

JayNola said...

When they were doing national guard policing down here post Katrinaq it became evident to everyone that playing traffic games with guys who had just got back from Iraq wasn't a good time. Look up joint task force gator and the 256th infantry.

Rusty Miller said...

Thank you for the reminder to keep a little perspective on such situations, and to avoid doing the "monkey dance" posturing that can lead to sub-optimal outcomes. These are crazy times, and I find that you are a civilizing influence. Keep it up!

R said...

Has your friend started driving with a dash cam yet?